The world used to be at his feet, so why hasn’t Ryan Hardie broken through at Rangers yet?
Indeed, the striker is actually at Livingston on loan for the season. An odd move to say the least given the club gave him a one-year deal last season.
It therefore means that this could be Hardie’s last chance to impress the Rangers’ coaching staff and break through.
At 21-years of age, it sounds odd to say that, but Hardie has been on the fringes of the squad for several years. The youngster broke into the Gers first-team back in 2014/15 under Ally McCoist. Yet, his debut brace at Dumbarton are the only goals he’s bagged for the club.
A lack of faith
Outside of that, the club seemed to lose faith in him and he’s only since made another 18 first-team appearances. Considering Hardie’s promising youth career, which has seen him rise through the Scotland ranks to under-21 level, you would’ve expected more at this stage.
Where the youngster has suffered, however, is the overhauls from each manager. Hardie has been around for the Mark Warburton, Pedro Caixinha, and Graeme Murty experiments. Each manager wanted to build his own squad, and this didn’t include Hardie.
That wasn’t a surprise. Hardie was still a young player and hadn’t proven himself. Where the disappointing aspect for the on-loan Livingston man comes into effect is that he hasn’t had chances to show his worth.
Instead, he’s been shipped out to Raith Rovers, St Mirren, and Livingston now on two occasions.
The new recruits
Hardie has had to deal with new influxes of strikers during his time at Ibrox. Martyn Waghorn, Alfredo Morelos, Joe Garner, and Eduardo Herrera to name a few all came in and were above him in the pecking order. Whether that’s fair or unfair is up for debate.
In order to keep himself fresh and his development resuming, Hardie’s had no choice but to take the loan deals. They’ve been good for him. His nine goals for Livingston last term helped them reach the playoffs and ultimately the Premiership.
Overall in his over 20 months on loan, Hardie has notched a total of 23 Championship goals. It’s a decent return, but it certainly has to be more than that in order to impress Gerrard.
How Hardie can break back into the side is a huge question mark.
Kyle Lafferty has arrived once more at Rangers and seriously looks the part. Morelos keeps getting better and better, whilst Gerrard has his new signing Umar Sadiq on stand-by.
For Hardie to compete with these players, he has to stand-out more than others. An injury is currently curtailing his first-team chances under new Livingston boss Gary Holt, with luck not on his side so far.
But if Hardie is to have a Rangers future, he needs to have a big breakout year down the M8.